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 You are in / Foolish Faith / Read Book Online / Chapter 3 / Fossils
"Nobel Prize winner Dr. Francis Crick (co-discoverer of one of the most important discoveries of 20th century biology) arrived at the theory that life could never have evolved by chance on planet earth."
»  Chapter Introduction
»  The Experts Say What?
»  Life from Non-Life
»  Mutations - Evolution's Raw Material
»  Fossils
»  Ape-Man
»  Radio Dating
»  Starlight
»  The Creation Model
»  Dinosaurs
»  Odds & Complexity
»  Chance Design?

Chapter 3:
Two Worldviews in Conflict
What do thousands of scientists believe about creation and evolution?


  • A fossil is a remnant, impression, or trace of an animal or plant that has been preserved in the earth. Usually, a fossil is simply the skeleton (or impression of the skeleton) of a dead creature preserved or molded in hardened rock.

  • It is agreed that the best and most likely way for a fossil to be produced is by the sudden burial of a creature in sediment or soil, at or soon after death.[36] If dead creatures remain on the surface of the ground or float in water, they will decay quickly or be eaten by other animals. Once buried in suitable soil, however, decay takes place very slowly leaving either the bones themselves or impressions of where the bones have been.

  • Paleontologists have recovered and studied the fossil remains of many thousands of organisms that lived in the past. The fossil record shows that many kinds of extinct organisms were very different in form from any now living.

  • According to evolutionary theory, the earliest fossils resemble micro-organisms such as bacteria and blue-green algae; the oldest ones appear in rocks 3,500,000,000 old. The oldest animal fossils, about 700,000,000 years old, come from small wormlike creatures with soft bodies. The first vertebrates, animals with backbones, appeared about 400,000,000 years ago, and the first mammals less than 200,000,000 years ago. The Encyclopedia Britannica, from an evolutionary viewpoint, states that “the history of life recorded by fossils presents compelling evidence of evolution.”[37]

  • Now that 200 million fossil specimens have been catalogued of over 250,000 fossil species, the fossil record allows for meaningful analysis. If living things have in fact evolved from other kinds of creatures, then many intermediate or transitional forms of creatures, with halfway structures, should be evident in the fossil record. However, if God created different kinds of animals separately, as creationists believe, the fossil record should show creatures appearing abruptly and fully formed.

  • Evolutionists point to a few transitional animal forms that they believe show evolutionary transition in the fossil record. However, such intermediates are often speculative and much disputed, even amongst evolutionists themselves. For example, one commonly used transitional form is the Ambulocetus natans (“walking whale that swims”), discovered recently. It is believed that whales evolved from some form of land mammal, and that the Ambulocetus natans is transitional between the two, with halfway structures between land mammal and whale. But when reconstructed fossil drawings of Ambulocetus natans are compared with the actual bones found, it is realized that the critical skeletal elements necessary to establish the transition from non-swimming land mammal to whale are missing![38] See diagram (above).

  • The media often sensationalize fossil “proofs” of evolution reported in scientific journals. But when these journals later report disproofs of the same fossils, the media rarely mention it. For example, in 1996 there were headlines like “Feathered Fossil Proves Some Dinosaurs Evolved into Birds.”[39] This was about a fossil called Sinosauropteryx prima. About a year later, four leading paleontologists, including Yale University’s John Ostrom, found that the “feathers” were not really feathers at all — they were just a parallel array of fibers.[40] Another example is when the cover of Time magazine [41] illustrated a dino-bird link with feathers, although not the slightest trace of feathers had actually been found![42]

  • The Encyclopedia Britannica contains an interesting article on turtles which claims “the evolution of the turtle is one of the most remarkable in the history of the vertebrates.” However, in the next sentence it states, “Unfortunately the origin of [the turtle] is obscured by the lack of early fossils, although turtles leave more and better fossil remains than do other vertebrates.”[43] The article affirms that “intermediates between turtles and cotylosaurs, the primitive reptiles from which turtles probably sprang, are entirely lacking.”[44]

  • If turtles leave “more and better fossil remains than do other vertebrates” but transitional forms are “entirely lacking,” what can this say for intermediates between all other vertebrates?

  • In reality, the fossil record seems to fit the creation model well — the record is in fact characterized by abrupt appearances of fully formed organisms, with large systematic gaps (lacking transitional forms) between different types of creatures. Geologist David Raup, curator at Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History, explains, “Instead of finding the gradual unfolding of life, what geologists of Darwin’s time, and geologists of the present day, actually find is a highly uneven or jerky record; that is, species appear in the sequence very suddenly, show little or no change during their existence in the record, then abruptly go out of the record.”[45]

  • World-renowned evolutionary paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould further acknowledged, “New species almost always appeared suddenly in the fossil record with no intermediate links to ancestors in older rocks of the same region. . . . The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology. The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils. . . . I regard the failure to find a clear ‘vector of progress’ in life’s history as the most puzzling fact of the fossil record.”[46]

  • Over a hundred years ago, Darwin pointed out the “fatal” significance of abrupt appearances and systematic gaps in the fossil record: “Why do we not find them [innumerable transitional forms] embedded in countless numbers in the crust of the earth? . . . If numerous species . . . have really started into life all at once, the fact would be fatal to the theory [of evolution]. . . . Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and gravest objection which can be urged against my theory. The explanation lies, as I believe, in the extreme imperfection of the geological record.”[47]

  • But evolutionist Niles Eldredge[48] of the American Museum of Natural History said, “[Darwin] prophesied that future generations of paleontologists would fill in these gaps by diligent search. . . . One hundred and twenty years of paleontological research later, it has become abundantly clear that the fossil record will not confirm this part of Darwin’s predictions. Nor is the problem a miserably poor record. The fossil record simply shows that this prediction was wrong.”[49]

  • Geologist David Raup, supervisor of one of the largest fossil collections in the world, said that today “we have even fewer examples of evolutionary transition than we had in Darwin’s time. . . . The evidence we find in the geologic record is not nearly as compatible with Darwinian natural selection as we would like it to be. Darwin was completely aware of this. He was embarrassed by the fossil record because it didn’t look the way he predicted it would. . . . Some of the classic cases of Darwinian change in the fossil record, such as the evolution of the horse in North America, have had to be discarded or modified as the result of more detailed information.”[50]

  • Niles Eldredge, again commenting on the acclaimed exhibit of horse evolution, states, “There have been an awful lot of stories, some more imaginative than others, about what the nature of that history [of life] really is. The most famous example, still on exhibit downstairs, is the exhibit on horse evolution prepared perhaps 50 years ago. That has been presented as the literal truth in textbook after textbook. Now I think that that is lamentable, particularly when the people who propose those kinds of stories may themselves be aware of the speculative nature of some of that stuff.”[51]

  • A senior evolutionary paleontologist at the British Museum of Natural History, Colin Patterson[52] has also made some surprising statements about transitional fossils: “Gould and the American Museum people are hard to contradict when they say there are no transitional fossils. . . . I will lay it on the line — there is not one such fossil for which one could make a watertight argument. . . . It is easy to make up stories of how one form gave rise to another. . . . But such stories are not part of science, for there is no way of putting them to the test.”[53]

  • One of the predictions made by Darwin regarding the theory of evolution was that no species would remain the same over a long period of time:[54] “We may safely infer that not one living species will transmit its unaltered likeness to a distant futurity.”[55] But there are many examples of living organisms that have not changed at all from the time when some of their ancestors were fossilized. Consider the following examples:

    • Bat fossils that are considered 50 million years old look essentially the same as today’s bats of the same type.[56]

    • Turtle fossils dated to 200 million years ago look virtually the same as today’s turtles. “Turtles . . . have plodded a stolid and steady course through evolutionary time, changing very little in basic structure.”[57]

    • The famous broadcaster and writer David Attenborough described fossil sea pens, a type of jellyfish, in Australian rocks that are considered 650 million years old, and noted that sea pens are living in the sea less than 100 miles away.[58]

    • The coelacanth is a bony fish that was known only from fossils dating back at least 65 million years, until a live specimen was caught in the Indian Ocean in 1938 — and many more have been discovered since. Live specimens are sold at Indonesian fish markets today.[59]

  • In many cases, it seems the controversy between creation and evolution is merely the result of each side’s bias when interpreting the data. As evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould acknowledged, “We understand that biases, preferences, social values, and psychological attitudes all play a strong role in the process of discovery. . . . It is how we interpret these animals [in the fossil record], and what we say they mean for the history of life that is obviously subject to biased ways of thinking.”[60]


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